Improved Care and Prevention Preventing suicide in men

Simon Hatcher, University of Ottawa
Simon Hatcher, University of Ottawa

Suicide Prevention in Men


  • In Ontario, at least 30,000 people a year present to hospital emergency departments with intentional self-harm (self-poisoning or self-injury). Although men make up only four out of 10 people who present to hospital with self-harm, they form the majority of subsequent suicides. Compared to women, men who self-harm are:
    • at higher risk of suicide;
    • are hard to engage in treatment;
    • use more violent methods; and,
    • have high rates of substance abuse.
  • Men who present to hospital emergency departments with intentional self-harm also have a high rate of death from causes other than suicide.
  • Suicide prevention strategies, such as those developed by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention or the European Alliance Against Depression, stress the need for effective treatments for this population. However, previous research has demonstrated few suitable therapies. One reason for this is that researchers have not tailored treatments for specific sub-populations so the same treatment is offered to everyone. Neither have previous trials used mobile technologies to extend the range of treatments outside the clinicians’ office.


  • This research project will compare the effectiveness of a blended innovative smartphone-assisted problem solving therapy (PST) with usual care in men who present to emergency departments with intentional self-harm. Problem solving therapy is recommended in recent guidelines on the management of self-harm as a promising treatment that requires further investigation. A pilot study of the blended therapy has been published here.
  • The project will determine if smartphone-assisted treatment will reduce emergency department contacts in the year after the episode of intentional self-harm compared with usual care. It will also collect data on a subset of men who self-harm to identify how risk factors, such as a history of trauma, access to care and socioeconomic factors affect outcomes.
  • Further information can be found at or follow @HatchingHub on twitter

Patient engagement

  • The project uses a number of tactics to meaningfully engage patients in research. Two people with lived experience of self-harm have been included as study co-investigators from the beginning of the project. Additionally, members of the University of Ottawa’s Service Users and Caregivers Research Interest Group in Suicide Prevention (SUCRIG) have reviewed and contributed to this application.
  • People with lived experience, caregivers, policy makers, clinicians, First Nation, and Francophone representation are members of an Advisory Board which meets quarterly to review progress, provide advice on data collection and on dissemination of the results.
  • The research team also ran a conference REFLECT2017 ( which brought together researchers and people with lived experience to discuss how they could work together in suicide prevention.


Photo credit: BEACON project